Thursday, April 26, 2012

IL Gioiello Winery – Off the Beaten Path in Fiddletown, California




After visiting Story Winery I chose my next winery not for its ancient vines, but for its unique wine profile and that it was off the beaten path. In fact, finding the winery is a bit of a challenge. As you search for the winery, which tucked back in the hills, you may wonder if you have gotten lost as you wind along a narrow road, pass by several ponds, fields of cattle and barns with only a tiny sign to indicate your final turn.


This picturesque, serene property is located near the border of Amador and El Dorado Counties. It is at approximately a 2,300-foot elevation, with groves of pine trees as well as ancient oaks. On the grounds there is a large water fountain, a bocce ball court, picnic tables and the architecture of the tasting room has a Tuscan flare.


Robert Morse, the proprietor of IL Gioiello Winery, purchased the estate property in 1999. Recognizing the unique terrior of the region he then selected varietals which would thrive and have potential for producing fine wine.


On the 80 acre estate property there 20 are acres under vine. There are 16 different vineyards and 13 varietals including Aglianico, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Montepulciano, Mourvedre, Muscat, Petite Sirah, Roussanne, Sangiovese, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Viognier, and Zinfandel. The first wine produced with estate grapes was the 2003 vintage of Petite Sirah. 


The winery has an impressively long line-up of wines and they currently have three labels: Soleau, IL Gioiello (pronounced “Eel Joe Elle”) and Morse Wines. While visiting I tasted (and spat to avoid intoxication) the following wines:

My first sample was the 2009 Estate Rosé of Mourvedre. On the nose I picked up plum, pomegranate and cherry which is balanced by a delicate hint of sweet anise. On the palate this wine is slightly tart and has crisp acidity. A really nice wine for $18 a bottle.

My second wine was the 2008 Soleau Viognier - Amador County, Sierra Foothills. Made with 2% Muscat this wine displays peaches, apricots and orange peel. It is rich and luscious with a full mouth feel. This wine sells for $12 a bottle (a real bargain) and it was on sale for only $99 a case ($106 with tax). So, for only $8 a bottle I brought a case home.

My third wine and first red the 2006 Morse Syrah - Amador County, Sierra Foothills. On the nose I picked up blueberries, licorice and a hint of dry herbs. On the palate this wine is dry, well balanced with a touch of pepper on the finish. It is extremely difficult to find a Syrah of this quality at this price range at only $18 a bottle. I have a large collection of Syrah in my cellar, if I didn’t I would have brought some home.


My fourth wine and first red the 2007 Morse Syrah - Amador County, Sierra Foothills. This wine is earthier than the previous wine and it also displays blueberries, licorice, dry herbs. On the palate this wine is dry, well balanced with a touch of pepper but with more vanilla on the finish. This wine is bigger, fresher and more pronounced than the previous Syrah and is definitely a notch up. It sells for $24 a bottle.

The fourth pour was the 2007 IL Gioiello 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon – Eldorado County. A blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc and 1% Syrah this wine displays cassis, cherries, anise, and vanilla on the nose. On the palate this is a big round mouth filling wine but lacks the finesse, minerality and acidity of finer cabs. But for only $20 it is a quality wine that challenges many others in the same price range on the market.

The fifth sample was the 2007 Morse Ensemble, a GSM (60% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 25% Mourvedre) Rhone blend - Amador County, Sierra Foothills. On the nose I picked up hints of sweet tobacco, dusty blackberries, and licorice and herbs. A nice wine for $24 a bottle.


The sixth pour was the 2007 Morse Estate Mourvedre. A blend of 95% Mourvedre and 5% Syrah, on the nose this wine is meaty, displaying notes of blackberries, beef jerky, damp earth and anise. If you are not familiar with this grape, this is a fine example for only $24 a bottle.

The seventh wine was the 2007 IL Gioiello Block 1 Zinfandel. A blend of 89% Zinfandel and 11% Primativo, this wine displays cola, cherries and a hint of pepper on the nose. On the palate the wine is big and expressive with tight tannins and good acidity. A nice wine for only $18 a bottle.

The eighth wine was the 2008 IL Gioiello Estate Montepulciano - Amador County, Sierra Foothills. Rarely found growing in California, the grape, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, is one of Tuscany’s classic red wines. On the nose I picked up black berries and a hint of tobacco. On the palate this is a big wine with soft tannins, a bit of heat and a medium length finish. I think better representatives come from the homeland. This wine sells for $24 a bottle.


Although I was sipping water along the way and spitting, to be honest at the point I was experiencing palate fatigue. One of the downfalls of procuring such a large portfolio of wines is that after a while the taster can no longer distinguish one wine from another. So, I took a brief break to take some pictures and then returned to the tasting room.

The ninth wine was the 2008 IL Gioiello Barbera. The nose displays aromas of dried flowers, black cherries, plums and a hint of pipe tobacco. On the palate it has medium intensity of fruit, herbs and pepper. A nice wine for $20 a bottle.

The tenth pour was the 2007 Morse Estate Petite Sirah from the Evan’s Hill Vineyard A dark, inky wine that stains the glass when swirled. The nose of this wine displays an herbal bouquet with blueberries, black peppers, with a hint of black currant. A nice wine for $24 a bottle.


To visit or for more information:

IL Gioiello Winery / Morse Wines
22355 Lawrence Road
Fiddletown, CA 95629
Phone: 1-209-245-3395